I'm sitting in a common or lounge room that doubles as a cafeteria of a small community college just over a mile away from the downtown area of a small city in the midwest. I've found the perfect spot with my back against the wall and a good view of everything that is going on around me. I'm done with class and really have no other reason to be here besides the better internet connection than at home. There are other smaller, more secluded spots around campus, but I choose the one with all the people in it. I know I don't sound like the introvert I probably am, but I rarely talk to anyone here. None of my friends from high school go here and most of them are done with college. Despite that, I kinda like being around all commotion. The people coming and going.
Practically every college and/or university has them; sometimes they have several. I'm not gonna pose the question of what you think the heart of an educational institution such as this is, like some pretentious high school senior that picked a crap subject to write an essay on and is desperately trying to fill a quota for certain number of pages written. That's a question that this article's title and subtitle should have already answered for you.
When you go to college for the first time, you probably can't let go of the sense community or connection to other people that you had in high school, even if you hated high school and everyone in it, the fact that you had that connection stays with you. You were a part of something. What you did and what happened to you felt like it mattered. Now when you're in college, you realize how small you are compared to the rest of world. You get dumped? Big deal, no one cares. You're past due on an assignment? You'd be lucky to be able to make it up. I won't even mention having a job and wether or not you have to pay rent or utilities.
College is basically high school without the bull crap, but you also have a large amount of people fresh out of high school that cling to old habits. In the classrooms you learn, the libraries you study, and in the hallways it's one destination to the next. For universities, you have dorms for sleeping (and parties), but one place that you always see people gravitate towards.
Pretty much anything can happen here. There are people on the other side of the room that have a flatscreen set up with a Nintendo Switch playing Mario Kart. Keep in mind that they brought the flatscreen themselves. You can overhear the same people debate Dragon Ball and Bioshock, among a few of the things they talk about. People come here to meet others, eat, study, or even goof off on their phone or computer. This is the place where people go to be somewhere. Somewhere where they go from being children to becoming adults, where they have to deal with the rest of the world. This is where one chapter of your life ends and another begins.